Sunday, June 10, 2012

Youth Golf Club Fitting: Sales Job or Con Job?

I went to get my son new golf clubs and I was talked into spending significantly more money than I had planned. Was this a great sales job or a con job? Perhaps the sales pro read about me in the first chapter of the book, "The Most Expensive Game in Town" What do you think?

My son is going to tryout for his high school team in August, so for his combined 8th grade graduation, Catholic Confirmation and 15th birthday, I took him out to get fitted for new golf clubs.

We went to the Golf Exchange because their TV commercial featured the latest computer technology for fitting golf clubs. After I saw the TV ad, I went to the website and noticed that Golf Exchange was a Golf Digest Top 100 Fitter, The Ping Fitter of the Year, a Mizuno Top 100 Fitter and the Callaway 2012 Fitter of the Year.

I was sufficiently convinced, so on my son's birthday, we went to the Golf Exchange to get my son fitted for new clubs. The pro immediately asked me a bunch of questions about my son's objectives, golfing history and swing. The pro then asked my son to hit his own 6 iron in the cage to get warmed up, while he fired up the computer to analyze my son's swing.

My son started hitting the ball and numbers jumped up onto a computer screen.

He than gave my son a club with some special impact indicating tape affixed to the club head. After each shot, the pro would read the tape and then remove the head of the club and replace it with another that connected at a slightly different angle. The pro would then again put indicating tape on the club head and hand the club to my son. This continued until the optimal club head angle was determined.

The pro then asked my son to hit his driver. After a few swings were recorded, the pro called over another sales associate and they started whispering back and forth. I edged closer to try to hear the conversation, but I could not hear it clearly.

I was curious, so I asked the pro if there was a problem. He told me that there was no problem with my son's swing, in fact your son's numbers are truly amazing. The problem is that your son's driver cannot keep up with his incredible swing and it might be difficult to analyze your son's "pro-like" swing inside.

He asked me how far my son hits his driver. I hesitated thinking that he would not believe me, then I told him that he hits between 250 and 310 and on occasion farther than that. My son is 5 ft 8 and weighs 120 pounds, so I was waiting for that look from the pro that says, "I think that you are exaggerating a bit about your son." Instead, he said, "I am not surprised with these numbers. In fact, he is losing distance because of the incredibly high backwards rotation he is generating with his current club." He then told me that the right shaft on the driver will control that spin better and your son will be hitting 310+ consistently instead of occasionally.

The pro then showed the numbers to another pro in the shop. This sales pro happened to be the JV coach of a local high school. The JV coach was also amazed by the numbers and told me that my son can be a special player - we don't see numbers like that from 15 year olds very often.

The Main Point

If the pros at Golf Exchange were feeding me BS to get me to spend more than I intended, then they are the greatest bunch of actors in the world.

I bought my son Ping I 20s and scheduled an outside fitting for a new set of woods too. When I got home, I looked up the swing statistics for pros and they did match my son's numbers. I also read some Ping research that shows proper golf club fitting does make a difference.

Why would I not want to give my son every advantage as he tries out for the golf team. I sucker is born every minute, but a natural golf swing is not. I guess I will find out over the next couple of years which is more accurate.


  1. Mostly a sales job by the staff. Asking how far he hits the driver is a dead giveaway. You bought in to the yardage and they kept it going. A true clubfitter would have started off with yardage from his irons, 7, 5, & 3 and maybe talked about wedges.

    The reason being is that psychologically, being measured, everyone will overswing the driver. On a few swings, nearly everyone can put out numbers close to the norm of a tour player.

    Fitting Ping irons is 3 measurements and clubhead speed would only be a determiner between stiff or regular flex shafts (since he's 15, it would even apply, put him in stiff shafts). After that it is length and lie. With Ping, you grab the appropriate color dot. With almost everyone else, it would be 3 swings with the odd irons and measured with a scuffs and adjusted +/- 2 degrees.

    That said, your son may be gifted, so don't discount that.

    1. Thanks for adding the the conversation -

      To be fair to Golf Exchange spent a considerable amount of time on the irons first before they concentrated on the Driver. The question about the distance came because my son's ball spin rate was 6300 - which as I understand means he must be generating tremendous club head speed (115 MPH according to the Trackman radar), but is hitting down on the ball a bit and is losing distance. Yesterday, I took my son to our club pro to have him adjust his swing.

      Finally, my son may have a gifted golf swing - but there is so much more to golf than hitting it far - putting, short game and of course the mental game. All of these aspects of the game take practice - lots of practice. Unfortunately, my son has limited time to practice due to a pretty demanding baseball schedule.

      The experience filled my son with confidence - and perhaps motivated him to practice more.

  2. Great blog post. Glad to hear some are passionate when it comes to their child's sports. Find a great private coach today to help take them to the next level

  3. So... what happened with the driver fitting?

  4. Can't wait for the follow-up posts on the central question.

    SPIN -
    S - Situational questions
    P - Problem questions
    I - Implication questions
    N - Needs/Payoff

    Nothing wrong with selling - like dealing with knowledgeable salesmen. Difference between U & me on this one - I would have walked & done more research after dealing with these guys. Can always go back.

    1. I did a lot of research on clubs before I went - I knew the brands and the cost ranges. The reason I did not walk away and research more - it was my son's birthday and that was his present. I did not give him gifts for graduation and Confirmation so it was time to pull the trigger. I did walk away before I bought the woods.

  5. Bravo! Look forward to the follow-up posts about his golf game & impact of clubs on them in 6 to 12 month time frame.

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